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Traveling In Style : Great Escapes : Times Correspondents' Course In Favorite Weekend Getaways : Bonn

March 15, 1987|WILLIAM TUOHY

I find few things more relaxing than enjoying a first-class meal in a comfortable hotel while looking out over the vineyards that grew the wine I am drinking. A gem of a retreat that takes me away from the political scene in Bonn is the Altes Gasthaus Moseltor, a small hotel in the town of Trarbach on the Moselle River in the state of Rhineland-Palatinate. The steep hillsides of the Moselle produce some of the finest white wines in the world.

The Altes Gasthaus Moseltor (literally the Old Guesthouse at the Mosel Gate) had its origin in the 13th Century. The hotel has been in the same family's hands since 1838. It has been rebuilt, and 10 years ago the rooms were modernized. The staff is pleasant and speaks English.

But the real treasure is the kitchen, with a German version of nouvelle cuisine that the sophisticated French guidebook "Gault-Millau" rates as one of the 50 best in Germany. I recommend beginning with a glass of local sekt , a German sparkling wine, and then having a bottle or carafe of Moselle. On my last visit, I had a superb combination of lobster and cauliflower mousse, followed by a beautifully done pigeon. The lamb with rosemary was equally delicious.

From the geranium-trimmed terrace of the inn, you can sit and watch the action on the Moselle, a working river full of pleasure craft, sculls, tourist boats and cargo ships. Or you can stroll through the town with its old streets and charming shops, or walk across the bridge to Traben, the sister town on the other side of the river.

A drive along the Moselle between the Roman city of Trier at the west and Koblenz at the Rhine is one of the prettiest in Germany. You can also board comfortable boats for a river tour. During the summer and autumn, there are wine-tasting festivals.

Hotel-Restaurant Altes Gasthaus Moseltor. Moselstrasse 1. 5580 Traben-Trarbach/Mosel. West Germany. Telephone 011-49-6541-6551. Cost: $35 to $55, double occupancy, including breakfast. Four-course meal, including wines, about $90 per couple. Special rates for rooms, meals available.

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